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Thursday, 17 May 1973
Page: 2348

Mr MCVEIGH (Darling Downs) - Few persons associated with tertiary education dispute the fact that libraries are essential for satisfactory teaching and learning to proceed at tertiary institutions. This claim is well documented, not only in Australian publications, but also in those emanating from overseas. In its first report 6 years ago the Wark Committee stressed the need for first rate facilities in colleges of advanced education. Undoubtedly the Committee realised the importance of libraries in tertiary education institutions and spoke of them as vitally imp'ortant services.

The University Grants Committee in Great Britain in its report - the Parry report - comes out very strongly on this matter. The Committee suggests:

The character and efficiency of a university may be gauged by its treatment of its- central organ, the library. We regard the fullest provision for library maintenance as the primary and most vital need in the equipment of the university.

In its first report, the Wark Committee, commenting upon the college libraries said that few deficiencies struck it more forcibly than the inadequacy of libraries. The situation some 6 years later is not noticeably improved.

Colleges of advanced education libraries are sometimes regarded by governments as less important than libraries in universities. This fallacy is quickly disproven by the following reasons advanced by a number of bodies, including advisory bodies to the Government itself. The library is of central significance in any tertiary institution. It provides a resources and information service which is an essential supplement to formal teaching. The library will be a major means in providing the liberal education which is to supplement the vocational courses in the colleges. There has been a greater emphasis placed on libraries by college staff in the last few years. This trend will continue. The facilities to cater for it do not exist.

The library can teach skills in information retrieval which are useful in employment. The library provides study facilities and thereby promotes self-disciplined learning. The part time student needs the library no less than his full time counterpart. His need is, instead, for different hours and for more reader services. The vocational nature of college courses generally means a large number of classes, but still requires use of a library. Technical journals are required, as are course books and material for a general education. College students generally come from poorer family backgrounds than do university students, and are less able to afford to buy the books required for their course reading. The library therefore must have them available.

Why then. I ask, is it that college libraries have only one-third the number of serials per student as have universities? There is seating for only one-sixth of the students in colleges of advanced education libraries but seating for one-quarter in universities. College libraries are open for only two-thirds of the time that university libraries are open, despite their greater proportion of part-time students. College libraries have only 40 per cent of the number of books per students as have universities. College libraries spend less than half as much per student as do university libraries. Yet university libraries are increasing their book stocks at 6 times the rate of college libraries. Blame cannot be levelled at the universities, foi their libraries are far from adequate. Instead, these figures indicate that there is a double standard in tertiary education, that college libraries are grossly inadequate and that their rate of improvement is far too slow.

The nearest major libraries to Toowoomba are in Brisbane at the university and at the State library, neither of which is in a position to meet the reference and bibliographic needs of the Institute in addition to meeting the needs of its immediate clientele. Toowoomba is not able to rely on substantial assistance from any other library. A survey of country college reference collections, undertaken by the Association of Librarians in colleges of advanced education during the early part of 1972, indicated that most of the libraries did not hold reference works which are absolutely vital for an in-depth study of many subjects. When such works are not in the collections of college libraries situated in the capital cities, students and staff have the opportunity of using them in other libraries in those cities. However, this simply is not the case in colleges situated in country areas. Country colleges of advanced education libraries well recognise the need which they should fulfil in servicing local industry and commerce by providing technical and scientific information. The Australian Commission on Advanced Education has stressed this point in each of its reports. However this vital service cannot be provided without adequate resources and when it is, using the present inadequate collections, students and staff within the college must suffer.

At the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education in Toowoomba in 1973 there are 1,213 attending students and 606 external students. The library at present holds only 22,000 books. According to the standards outlined at page 61 of the second report of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education the library falls within category 3 and should have a book stock of 80,000 volumes with 700 to 1,000 periodical subscriptions. This, of course, simply is not the case. With its grossly inadequate collection the library cannot serve students and staff as it should and, of course, they are the ones who suffer. It is my belief fiat when the Commission is distributing the $5m unmatched grant for libraries being offered in this triennium, special consideration should be given to the plight of country colleges.

At the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education it will be impossible for the library to come anywhere near the standards set by the Commission in its second report. It is expected that by the end of 1973 the library will hold 24,000 volumes; by the end of 1974, 31,000 volumes; and by the end of 1975, 38,000 volumes. Funds available for the purchase of materials for the library are $41,000 in 1973, $66,000 in 1974 and $84,000 in 1975. The increasing cost of acquisition being experienced by the library suggests that it will be impossible for the library to reach the goal of 38,000 volumes by 1975 with the money that is available. I submit that there is a clear case for the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education at Toowoomba-

Mr Keogh - Where is that?

Mr McVEIGH - I suspected that my honourable friend opposite might not have known where Toowoomba was and I sought to improve his education. I realise he has a narrow outlook which begins and ends at the airport in Brisbane. There is a clear case for the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education to receive special consideration in the allocation of funds as the development of the library which is possible using existing funds is such that it will not be possible for it to meet fully the needs of student and staff at any stage in the foreseeable future.

In conclusion I make a strong plea for colleges of advanced education in rural areas to be given special consideration on this important question of libraries. As I said initially, it is not possible for country students to do as constituents of the honourable members for Bowman (Mr Keogh) and Lilley (Mr Doyle) can do, namely, to borrow books from the university or another college of advanced education in the next street. These students have no tertiary education institutions available to them within a distance of 100 miles. Mail deliveries are sometimes slow and when books are mailed there is sometimes the problem of someone taking them and keeping them for a long time. So in the interests of decentralisation and as a means of casting our minds further afield than the cities of Melbourne and Sydney-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member's time has expired. I remind all honourable members that when the Chair calls time, an honourable member's speech in Hansard will conclude at the last word before that call.

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